Defence Policy,
Foreign Policy,
& Canada-US




Aerospace and
the  Economy


by Steve Daly, CD


Editorials &



Canadian Aerospace  –  Opinion  Piece  –  Procurement & Industry  –  August  2009

A Nation among Nations:  Aerospace is a Strategic Industry because it underlies the life or death of your country as an autonomous state

Op-Ed:  Present and Future Aerospace Procurement Opportunities by Steve Daly, CD
Canadian Aerospace Industry and the implications for Canada's survival as a sovereign state

The commercial success of any particular aircraft type – such as the Series 400 Twin Otter or the proposed CSeries – are properly the responsibility of  the individual companies, Viking or Bombardier. However, the continued viability of the industry as a whole must remain a central concern of  the Canadian governement.  Actions in support of  this strategic industry must be woven into procurement practices of  all government agencies. Most importantly, it must be a central  factor in purchases by the Department of  National Defence,  especially the Air Force.

Domestic orders are essential if  any aircraft type  is to attain the goal of  international exports. If the Canadian government – and especially its Air Force – shows no faith in the products of Canadian aerospace designers  and  assembly workers,  what expectations can we have that a commercial carrier or a foreign military half a world away will show an interest? Customers will buy a product that is tried and tested. There can be no better promotion than the ongoing and successful operation of  a proven design. Canada's government should purchase and operate examples of  Canadian aerospace products wherever the aircraft types suit our nation's needs.

One Opportunity: Taking the pressure off  of  the CP-140 Aurora Maritime Patrol Aircraft

Canada lacks sufficient "platforms" to meet all  its many military and sovereignty patrol needs. Most citizens are aware of the low numbers of CP-140 Aurora aircraft. But there's a deeper problem. The fact is that the Aurora has been burdened with too many disparate responsibilities. A new platform is needed for the North, one that can fill both Arctic sovereignty and coastal patrol requirements.

This new maritime patrol aircraft type,  designed specifically for its assigned purpose,  would allow  the Air Force to use their existing Aurora fleet  to concentrate on the more appropriate strategic mission –  wide-area maritime patrol  –  until a suitable replacement  has been found.

Example: Guardian 400 could fulfill both the Northern patrol and utility transport missions

The Guardian 400 is based on Viking Air's updated Series 400 Twin Otter.  It continues that type's outstanding heritage. Guardian 400 's expanded sensor options include  radar, an EO turret and a searchlight. Four (4) underwing hardpoints offer flexibility. A Guardian 400 can carry specialized cargo, such as rescue packs or emergency food for relief in natural disasters.

Guardian 400 's  internal fuel tanks can extend  the operating time to 10 hours. Currently, 440 Squadron operates  the CC-138, an earlier variant of  the Twin Otter. [1]  The upgrading of squadron maintenance facilities and hangars, as well as the training of 440 personnel will be much less onerous than if Canada purchased a completely new,  unfamiliar,  and  invariably foreign-built aircraft for this purpose.

The question is: How to fund such an acquisition?  The current Fixed-Wing Search & Rescue
( FWSAR ) program envisions the purchase of  19 aircraft to meet combined Arctic Utility and SAR requirements.  Reducing that number to 18, and  utilizing the funds earmarked for CC-138 life extension, it should be possible to acquire as many as eight (8) new Guardian 400 aircraft.

Replacing the four (4) current Twin Otters with eight (8) new Guardian 400s would also allow for stationing four (4) aircraft at  CFS Nanisivik.  In a stroke,  Canada could enhance its Arctic presence (part of sovereignty assertion), its Northern SAR capability, and the urgent need for increased utility transport among northern communities. The aircraft based at Nanisivik would also be available to support  the new  Arctic Warfare Centre  at  Resolute,  whenever required.

Near-Term/Long-Term: Replacing the CP-140 Aurora fleet for Wide Area Maritime Patrol

At the time of writing, the P-8A Poseidon – derived from the Boeing 737 –  is the front-runner for the eventual replacement of the existing CP-140 Aurora fleet. As citizens, we must ask our- selves: Is the purchase of another foreign aircraft the best course for Canada in the long run?

The life of  Canada's CP-140 fleet, if freed of its constabulary and sovereignty assertion roles, could be extended until a domestic alternative to that foreign-sourced Boeing P-8A Poseidon becomes available.  Bombardier has designed its CSeries as a competitor to the Boeing 737 in the commercial field.  There is no reason  why the CSeries airframe could not also be modified by Bombardier into a domestic competitor to the P-8A Poseidon as a maritime patrol aircraft.

This isn't solely a matter of choosing a new aircraft. It must also be asked how such a 'platform' would  fit  into existing organiza- tional structures.  Rather than trying to maintain  the Air Force's already  over-extended  role  requirements,  it would  be better to expand Transport Canada's National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP ) to incorporate to incorporate a new platform performing the non-military patrol roles. Other nations – Australia, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden – adopted a Canadian-built aircraft for sovereignty patrol. Why not Canada?

Supporting the development of such 'platforms' would provide an economic stimulation to the Canadian aerospace industry.  And  that stimulus effect multiplies with each aircraft exported. It makes sense, from a purely economic viewpoint, to procure new Canadian Forces platforms from Canadian sources. The health of the Canadian aerospace industry would be ensursed as would continued innovation and job growth that goes with such a robust aerospace industry.

Horses for Courses:  A Proposal  for a new  Arctic / Sovereignty  Patrol  Aircraft  ( A/SPA )

For  wide-area maritime patrol,  as other nations have discovered,  the Bombardier Challenger provides an ideal platform  for a variety of specialized tasks falling within this general mission. Business aircraft orders are down – meaning minimal production delays – and the Challenger aircraft has the speed and  range to make patrols of  the long Canadian coastline or the Arctic.

As implied above, an Arctic/Sovereignty Patrol Aircraft (A/SPA) would  primarily be a platform carrying out constabulary duties –  monitoring our coastlines, and  the like. Armaments would not be required  but an effective sensor suite is crucial.  The A/SPA would  build on the Challenger MMA,  incorporating  synthetic aperture radar, rear EO/IR turret, observation windows, and  gravel deflectors for rough Arctic airfields.

The Challenger MMA has proven itself capable of air-intercept (including on SAR missions). But  the synthetic aperture radar can also be used  for strip mapping.  This ability would allow A/SPAs on patrol to routinely update maps of  Canada's Arctic coasts and communities. Such mapping also serves to enhance constabulary role enforcement in those northern reaches. [2]

The Leading Edge of Composite Technology  –  Bombardier's CSeries and Maritime Patrol

The Bombardier CSeries  will have advantages beyond  its domestic roots. Construction will include a large percentage of  composite materials.  This makes an  airframe  inherently more corrosion resistant while exposed to salt air over water.

Another advantage comes from new-technology geared turbines. [3] Such engines are vastly superior because of their reduced carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions. In addition, fuel consumption is much lower than the of the older style turbofan engines used on Boeing's 737.

The environment is an important issue for Canadian citizens.  Thus, lower emissions and  fuel consumption should play a central role in the decision-making for this important procurement.

When the CF  Lockheed CP-140 Aurora fleet was purchased it replaced the Canadair CP-107 Argus, a domestic designed and produced aircraft which had provided sterling service to this country. An 'Argus II ', based on the new Bombardier CSeries would benefit from the recent Aurora moderniza- tion. The Aurora provides an integrated mission suite which could be fitted to a modified CSeries airframe. Such a course lowers the risk inherent in purchasing new aerial platforms since the complex integration of  the avionics is already accomplished.  Upgrades can be planned  incrementally, bringing Canada a  fully up-to-date Maritime Patrol Aircraft platform  from a Canadian factory.

Canada,  of all nations,  knows how hard  it is to rebuild a national aerospace industry once it has been allowed to languish. The current world economic situation has posed an unexpected threat to the Canadian aerospace industry as orders for  both  business and commercial  types are reduced, delayed, or cancelled outright. Fortunately, the current economic situation is not without opportunities. Simplest to exploit is meeting Canadian security needs while providing both  short-term stimulus  to the economy and  long-term support  for the aerospace industry.

[1] The CF's CC-138 is a standard, civilian-model DHC-6-300 Twin Otter. Viking's Series 400 is an updated development of that aircraft. The Guardian 400 is their dedicated military variant.

[2] The advent of commercial UAVs used by commercial fishing fleets also bears monitoring.

[3] The CSeries will have the PW1000, a relative of Pratt & Whitney Canada's smaller PW810.

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